Lake Mead, 2015

So yesterday was a bit difficult. I had to say goodbye to my nephew who had spent the last six weeks in Vegas for summer vacation with his dad (mom lives in Southern California). Without going into the details, these past six weeks have been an emotional whirlwind…happiness, hurt, anger and just plain sad. 

Having no kids, I pride myself on being the best auntie I can be.  Whether by blood, marriage or friendship, I’ve been called #AuntieSara for a long time by a lot of kids. It’s who I am…what most children in my life know me as. My brother refers to me as auntie Sara, as do my friends with kids and other family members. Being called auntie Sara is just one of those things that can turn any bad day or situation completely around-especially if it’s by a kid who’s running up to me wanting to jump in my arms or getting ready to give me a big bear hug.

Until about a month ago, I didn’t much care who called me by that nickname. But what do you do when you’ve got a child going through some major emotional problems, trying to keep constants constant in his life? Being too young to understand that I am his auntie Sara and nothing will ever change that, he was unwilling to let some new kids in our life call me by that name.

When it first happened, I had no idea it was such a problem. My nephew had never expressed any disgust or anger when other kids called me auntie Sara (his cousins who entered our life via marriage or even kids he isn’t related to). It’s just our family’s term of endearment for me and has been since before he was born.

Thinking back, I’m guessing he had already expressed his dislike of them calling me auntie Sara to the two kids he lived with during summer break. When I walked into their house about three weeks ago, after being lovingly attacked by my nephew, the little girl began to greet me by calling me aun…stopped and just called me Sara. So after I was done giving my nephew a hug and kiss, I walked over to where she was playing at the kitchen table and told her that it was okay for her to call me auntie Sara.

You would have thought the world was ending for my nephew who had overheard me say this. His face got mean (which is something that I had not seen him do before…ever!).

You’re my auntie Sara!

“Yes, I am. It’s okay if she calls me that.”

Tell her she can’t!

“I already told her she can. I’m not going to do that. Just let it go buddy.”

Pouting face and hissing noises is what he could muster as he tried not to cry. I was hugging him trying to persuade him that everything was going to be okay.  And also let him know that nothing changed between him and I. I was still HIS auntie Sara.

For the first time living life with my nephew, I experienced sadness. Not just for him, but really for all of us. Our family has gone through some difficulties of late and he has been thrown right in the middle. This unfortunate situation was just the first of many over the last three weeks.

It’s heartbreaking when kids experience hurt (especially emotionally because there’s not much that can be done to help the situation). As this little guy’s constant, I just felt awful.  Looking back, I wouldn’t have changed telling the little girl she could call me auntie Sara. I would however have had a heart to heart with my nephew beforehand.

The hissing, glares and pouting continued throughout the rest of his time here. I am so glad we won’t have to go through this situation any more over the summer.

He and I talked about it (a few times)…His dad tried to use powers of persuasion (which were, to say the least, not even remotely helpful)…He’s not okay with it…I understand that…But what’s done is done…I can’t go back on my word to another little kid just because he doesn’t like the outcome.

All in all, there have been many more joyous moments since Memorial Day 2015. But there were some sleepless nights tormenting over the fact that the emotional health of this little boy was endangered. He struggled being away from his mom/other family while trying to blend in with his new family, while also forgoing time with some other family and friends here.

#Love wins more often than not. How do you teach a child to love when those around him can’t? For me, it is by being the best auntie that I can be –

  • Loving this boy like only I can (while not spoiling him too much)
  • Showing him how to love others, even when we may not want to
  • Being the bigger person (which he doesn’t understand at all yet)
  • Being a light for others in what is becoming a very dark world

Something I’ve been pondering lately…If this kid wasn’t being used by the adults in his life as a pawn in their bitter chess match, I’m thinking he wouldn’t have even needed to negatively express himself the way he often did. I wish we could all just get along!

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